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Valiant Dust

(Breaker of Empires #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  252 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Horatio Hornblower and Honor Harrington fans will find a new hero in Sikander North, first in a new military SF series with elements of colonial diplomacy and explosive action.

In a new military SF series, Richard Baker begins the adventures of Sikander North in an era of great interstellar colonial powers.

Sikander Singh North has always had it easy until he joined the crew
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 7th 2017 by Tor Books
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3.69  · 
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 ·  252 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Richard Baker is a name I know mostly from his game design work for Dungeons & Dragons as well as his Forgotten Realms novels, so my curiosity was piqued when I learned that he was kicking off a new military sci-fi series called Breaker of Empires. The first book is Valiant Dust which introduces protagonist Sikander North, a prince of Kashmir who has just been assigned to serve as the new gunnery officer aboard the Aqu
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A new star on the space opera map.

An interesting reworking of space opera themes. Recontact by more developed interstellar powers with isolated frontier worlds from Terra and how that plays out. In this case the two major powers are the Aquilan Commonwealth and the Dremark Empire.
The world that is in question, Gadira II, is populated by those of Islamic leanings, adhering to moderate Quranist understandings of that faith.
It seems an agent of the Dremark Empire is setting up Gadira, for planetary
Richard Baker
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  (Review from the author)
Praise for Valiant Dust from David Weber, author of the Honor Harrington and Safehold series:

Valiant Dust, fantasy writer Richard Baker’s first original science fiction novel, is very, very, very good. If you read his fantasy, you already know that he is a deft storyteller with a strong feel for characterization. In Valiant Dust, you will see that same skill as a storyteller and a builder of characters in an entirely new and extraordinarily well-realized world of interstellar politics, intrigue,
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
*copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review*

Valiant Dust is a military sci-fi novel, and the first of Richard Baker’s “Breaker of Empires” series.
Sikander North is a prince. Well, close enough. His family rules a world, and, as he at one point indicates, he’s the at least nominal suzerain of a continent. Sikander also has the slightly less glamorous job of being a Lieutenant in the space navy of another power. Because whilst Sikander is a prince, he’s a prince of a minor world in the scheme o
Jessica Strider
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pros: interesting characters, high attention to detail, diverse cast, nuanced politics

Cons: more military minutiae than I personally like though less space battle action than military SF fans may be looking for

His Highness Lieutenant Sikander Singh North, Nawabzada of Ishar, is assigned to the Aquilan Commonwealth starship Hector as its new gunnery officer. Well aware that few Kashmiris serve in the Commonwealth officer corps, he must prove himself to his new crew members who look down on the co
Judy Lesley
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: military-sci-fi
Valiant Dust gives readers the chance to meet the main character in a new series in the military SF category. Lieutenant Sikander Singh North is in the Aquilan Commonwealth Navy, just starting his assignment aboard the starship CSS Hector. North's home planet of Kashmir has not developed technologically because of their isolation from other groups of planets so he has chosen the navy of the Aquilan Commonwealth for his career. North is accompanied in his military service by his body servant who ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

Rich kid gets a berth on a spaceship and has to prove his worth to the crew, while on a dangerous mission. He also gets involved with a rich spoiled girl.

Not bad, but nothing we haven't seen before.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's too early to determine whether this will be in my Best of 2018 grouping.... but it is good... very good.

Superficially, its just another mil-sci fi with a character that is just too perfect; makes all the right calls in battle, all the ladies (or gentlemen) drop their drawers in the bedroom; etc. etc. These novels are a dime the dozen... some of them are good, some of them are just masturbatory garbage.

However, this is what you get if you want superficiality. If you want something deeper, th
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I had really expected to like this book more than I did. The pacing was very slow until around page 300, at which point the book finally started working for me. In that way, it was a bit like the Aubrey/Maturin novels that would take a long time to arrive at a well-told battle scene. Alas, North is no Aubrey and there is no Maturin. Baker's imagined human diaspora-based civilization is interesting and should yield opportunities for intrigue and conflict for North in his future assignments. Not s ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
I had two books on my shortlist for Christmas, and this was the one that I decided against at the time. Still, I managed to get to it in April, and boy am I glad I did. This is exactly my type of novel – mil-SF with a touch of politics, plenty of action, and very interesting characters and setting. Can’t wait to read the sequel when it’s out later this year.
H.P. Holo
When David Weber puts a book in your hands and tells you to read it, you do, and so here is my book report on my recent ARC of Valiant Dust by Richard Baker.

In Valiant Dust, Sikander Singh North is an aristocrat-turned-soldier, off to begin his first mission on the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. Sikander himself is not wholly Aquilan; rather, he is from Kashmir, a colonial possession of Aquila that, while economically valuable, does not yet have the technology to construct its own fle
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The first Richard Baker novel that I read was Zero Point, a tie in novel to the TSR Alternity Star Drive RPG. It was brilliant, and I consider it criminally underrated. It featured one of the best descriptions of brain computer use and personal AI I have ever read, among many other wonderful ideas.

After that, I would run into his work in tons of RPGs and tie in novels, but Zero Point would remain in my mind constantly.

It was a pleasant surprise to see that he is starting a new military sci fi un
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, arc
Valiant Dust by Richard Baker is a promising start to a new Military Sci-Fi series with intriguing characters and a fascinating universe. The series (Breaker of Empires) is based on the colonization of Africa as European powers fought for dominance. Here, Earth long ago colonized the stars but some planetary systems became isolated, leaving them relatively primitive compared to some of the more technologically advanced star-faring empires.

The story is told through the eyes of Sikander North, roy
John Purvis
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Valiant Dust" eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Richard Baker ( Mr. Baker has published 10 novels. This is the first in his "Breaker of Empires" series.

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence, Mature Situations and Mature Language. The story is set in the far future. The primary character is Lieutenant Sikander Nor
Ahoy Horatio Hornblower/Honor Harrington fans! Have I got a new book series to recommend to you!!

Valiant Dust is the first book in the Breaker of Empire series by Richard Baker. Yes, so far only one book has been published but the good news is that book two will be released later this month!

Sikander Singh North is a lieutenant in the Aquilan Commonwealth. He is also a Kashmiri prince, albeit fourth child of the planetary ruler. Kashmir is a colonial system of the Aquilan Commonwealth. Meaning th
Mary Soon Lee
This is the opening book in a series, and also the first book I've read by Richard Baker. In terms of action and plot, I would class it as fairly standard military science fiction, but the political backdrop of colonialism in a star-spanning future was noteworthy and well-executed. The book doesn't shy away from potentially uncomfortable topics, and--spoilers ahead--(view spoiler) ...more
Nico Janow
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
The book almost immediately made me angry and depressed. It's over 1000 years in the future, and the progress of human society is pretty much zero. Aside from some slightly higher tech, I'd call the book military fiction from the pre-WWI to pre-WWII period. Replace the ftl light cruisers with coal-fired ones, with the Germans trying to take over an islamic state, and the book would be pretty much the same. Even the torpedo problem could be redone simply by replacing 'computer module' with 'gear ...more
Henry Lazarus
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Richard Baker sets his tale in the era of future colonial politics in galactic future. Many colonies suffered technology loss after centuries of loss of contact. Acquilla and Dremish and Montréal all have worlds under their protection, though the Dremish claim they were shut out. Sikander Singh North is a prince of Kasmir serving as gunnery officer on the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. The Hector is ordered to Gadria, a world controlled by Montréal because of increasing rebellion is e ...more
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I liked what the author was going for here - thoughtful, character-driven military sci-fi - but I feel he only partially succeeded. The majority of the book was very dull for me, with a lot of discussion on details that are pretty much irrelevant for the plot and an insipid semi-romance that would have been better left out. I would have liked to see Sikander interact more with the Hector's crew - particularly with frenemy Randall. I did enjoy the finale, where we finally got a space battle, and ...more
Technically, Richard Baker's 2017 novel "Valiant Dust: Breaker of Empires, Book 1" is a pretty good book. The world building is interesting and the writing is fine (at that level, my only issues are that I'm not sure his distances/velocities/accelerations are correct and the side of goodness and light seems to not see something pretty obvious). My biggest problem with the book is that I just don't like the story. Essentially, he's take the big ills of our world and just moved them out to space. ...more
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
OK beginning to a future human interstellar sphere where planets which happened to stay in contact got a real headstart and if isolated are now second class or colonies. Our heroes are from similar backwards planets; one is the niece of a sultan and has a strong military and political mind. Her planet is in play by the colonial powers and the site of most of the tale. The other is a young officer INA leading colonial navy but also from a minor planet. He'll be the basis of the series and it's ma ...more
John Van
May 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book was well written, not entirely boring, and with some changes might have been a better fit for me. As it is, the names of characters, planets, empires, ships, military rank, rebels, etc constantly had me trying to fit things together with the plotline and took away any enjoyment I might have had. Fanstasy and Scifi can get complicated with detail and many strangely named characters/empires, but with exciting and interesting plot and character development the details can be helpful and bu ...more
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Didn't enjoy this book as much as some of my favorite authors. Character development was average. The plot even when half way though the book couldn't interest me but did finish the book. Pure Science Fiction - author keep book interesting with the description of spaceship travel but come on having a character drink "ice tea" in the ward room. That took me off the page. Really - author spent time with weapons and the worlds traveled to but didn't think that food and drink might change for the fu ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
You may really enjoy Valiant Dust if you have naval experience or like seafaring novels. Written by former surface warfare officer Richard Baker, there is a ring of authenticity in Valiant Dust that a civilian author with no military experience would likely not achieve.
The chief character, Sikander North, is the new gunnery officer of the starship CSS Hector. He has three major strikes against him: he comes from a privileged background, he is the lone Kashmiri officer in the Aquilan navy, and he
Glen Gilson
Feb 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This was an alright book though it didn't live up to the hype on the back--"Honor Harrington meets The Expanse..." This was not as good as either series and, while a little bit like Honor Harrington in that it's military sifi, it was nothing like The Expanse and nowhere near as detailed as Honor Harrington.

It also contained the obligatory mention of a homosexual couple (about as much as the latest Star Trek movie) and a sex scene, neither of which added anything to the story.
I give up. The tag on the back says, "Honor Harrington meets The Expanse in an intense new military SF series." I love the Honor Harrington series, and I'm a fan of military sci-fi so I picked up this book. Unfortunately, I quickly lost interest in the characters and the story. The plot seemed similar to many I've read, as did the characters.

Nothing was badly done, but nothing sparked my interest either.
Nick Marone
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
An exceptional example of military science fiction, with a good blend of politics and an excellent naval warfare system. It was also good to have a main character who was from a culturally different background than the usual military sci-fi characters, and this really plays to the strengths of the plot and the depth of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the sequal.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
Oh my god, this book. A main character who doesn’t try to be interesting. An attempt to humanize the love interest and the antagonist by, at what I assume was the last minute, throwing them a chapter or two from their perspectives that offer very little in the way of interest. Formulaic and written to be cashed in on and turned into an equally vanilla TV series. There’s just nothing here that needs to be written or read.
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is workmanlike military sf. It's been edited and is not startlingly clunky. But there is nothing at all particularly interesting or different about it. In fact it's kind of amazing how little technological progress the author imagines: basically a couple of weapons that are easy to suspect are in the future and an unexplored space drive. Other than that, the navies (and the countries) are just thin pastiches of today's navies (and countries.) Oh well.

Can't really recommend.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: space-adventures
Decent space opera for all your military SF needs. Strapping man from slightly backwater (but not too backwater) planet gets position and rank aboard military ship some feel he doesn't deserve. Requisite sniping and sparring with other crew. Requisite affair with lovely lady from an even more backwater planet. Some space battles. Ending left wide open for further adventures/the galaxy to eventually recognize his awesomeness. Nothing I have not read before.
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A best-selling author and award-winning game designer, Richard Baker is known for his novels in the Forgotten Realms setting and his work on the Dungeons & Dragons game. His Realms novels include Condemnation (book 3 of the War of the Spider Queen), the Last Mythal trilogy, and the Blades of the Moonsea trilogy. He is currently working on a new military-themed science fiction series centered o ...more

Other books in the series

Breaker of Empires (3 books)
  • Restless Lightning (Breaker of Empires #2)
  • Scornful Stars
“And even if that weren’t true, Sikander had never understood how any decent human being could take pride in holding the sincere beliefs of others in contempt.” 1 likes
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